Spending time with pets provides benefits for older adults

” The pigeons should be here shortly to join us.”

As loved ones get older, it’s important to find good senior care in Rochester, MN (or wherever you’re located) for them to live out their golden years as happily and as comfortably as possible. However, growing old can be challenging for people because they see their body getting weaker and people they know dying of old age. This can lead them to feel depressed and lonely if they don’t get the right support. Luckily, experts say seniors who interact with animals feel less depressed and isolated. Social isolation is becoming an increasingly common issue, with one in five Americans reporting they feel lonely.

This is why it is really important to make sure that if you have got an elderly member of your family (or even a friend) who is living alone, then you need to try your best to speak to them and spend time with them. This is a lot easier with things like mobile phones, however, a lot of senior members don’t want to have a phone because they don’t understand how it works, or they can’t see it. However, they can easily get a cell phone for elderly with large buttons to help them see their phone better so that phone calls can be made. You don’t want someone you know to feel lonely and sad, so you might as well give them a call if you can. Seniors are especially vulnerable to feelings of loneliness though. In fact, 43 percent say they experience loneliness regularly. A new survey[1] of adults age 65 and older by Home Instead, Inc. found regular interaction with animals can help to reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness.

“While we recognize that pet ownership isn’t for everyone, we find that interaction with pets, even on a small scale, can have a big impact on older adults,” said Joe Malagon, senior care expert and owner of the Home Instead Senior Care office in Thousand Oaks. “A simple act like petting a dog, holding a cat or watching a bird can bring so much joy to a senior who may be feeling lonely.”

Additional survey results found that nearly half of older pet owners cited stress relief, sense of purpose and exercise as leading advantages to owning a pet. In addition to providing positive health benefits, pets can also provide constant companionship for older adults who would prefer to age in place. In fact, 82 percent of senior animal owners surveyed said they would not consider moving to a senior living community without their pet.

These findings are not a surprise to Steve Feldman, executive director of the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI), a nonprofit research and education organization. “There is a strong connection between heart health and pet ownership or interaction,” Feldman said. “Pet owners are more likely to get recommended levels of exercise, have lower blood pressure and experience reduced levels of stress. Pets have even been shown to aid in recovery after a heart attack.”

While there are many benefits to owning a pet later in life, Home Instead also found that even occasional interactions with pets prove to be beneficial for older adults. Survey results indicate that older adults achieve the same positive feelings when spending time with animals in other capacities, such as visiting with pets owned by family, friends or neighbors.

“This interaction is especially important, as it also provides the opportunity to socialize with other people, further reducing feelings of loneliness,” Malagon said. “Our goal is to keep seniors safe and happy in their own homes for as long as possible and many times that includes helping them with their own pet, taking them to dog parks or visiting pet-friendly businesses to gain that animal interaction they desire.”

“Research also shows animal interaction can help perceptions of pain and discomfort, and improve motivation for treatment protocols for diseases such as cancer by helping individuals feel more focused and positive moving forward,” said Van Every. “Even interactions for half an hour a week can make a difference.”

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